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Authors: Dorie Greenspan

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BOOK: Around My French Table
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Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

Bring the milk, water, butter, and salt to a rapid boil in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over high heat. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat to medium-low, and immediately start stirring energetically with a wooden spoon or heavy whisk. The dough will come together and a light crust will form on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring—with vigor—for another minute or two to dry the dough. The dough should now be very smooth.

Turn the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or into a bowl that you can use for mixing with a hand mixer or a wooden spoon and elbow grease. Let the dough sit for a minute, then add the eggs one by one and beat, beat, beat until the dough is thick and shiny. Make sure that each egg is completely incorporated before you add the next, and don't be concerned if the dough separates—by the time the last egg goes in, the dough will come
together again. Beat in the grated cheese. Once the dough is made, it should be spooned out immediately.

Using about 1 tablespoon of dough for each gougère, drop the dough from a spoon onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of puff space between the mounds.

Slide the baking sheets into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees F. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the gougères are golden, firm, and, yes, puffed, another 12 to 15 minutes or so. Serve warm, or transfer the pans to racks to cool.




Gougères are good straight from the oven and at room temperature. I like them both ways, but I think you can appreciate them best when they're still warm. Serve with kir, white wine, or Champagne.


The best way to store gougères is to shape the dough, freeze the mounds on a baking sheet, and then, when they're solid, lift them off the sheet and pack them airtight in plastic bags. Bake them straight from the freezer—no need to defrost—just give them a minute or two more in the oven. Leftover puffs can be kept at room temperature overnight and reheated in a 350-degree-F oven, or they can be frozen and reheated before serving.


dijon's famous aperitif

Arguably the best-known aperitif of France, kir is named for Canon Felix Kir, who was a priest, a World War II hero, and the mayor of Dijon. It was he who popularized the drink, a cocktail of crème de cassis (black currant liqueur) and white wine, by serving it at town gatherings. Today's kir is usually made in the ratio of one part crème de cassis to four or five parts (or more, to taste) white wine. Earlier kirs are said to have been one-third crème de cassis and two-thirds wine, producing a very sweet and quickly intoxicating aperitif, since crème de cassis is quite alcoholic. To get the best and prettiest mix, first pour the cassis into the glass—a white-wine glass or Champagne flute—and then pour in the chilled white wine. In Burgundy, the traditional wine for kir is Aligoté, a somewhat acidic white wine of no prestige in the region. Of course, you can use whatever wine you wish: use red wine, and you'll have a kir communard or cardinale; use Champagne, and it'll be a kir royale.

Goat-Cheese Mini Puffs

when cream puffs wouldn't be a hit, but there's something particularly appealing and surprising about them when they're savory. The puffs themselves, which look like something precious plucked from a pâtisserie, are made from basic
pâte à choux,
or cream puff dough, and the filling is a mix of herbed goat cheese, cream cheese (I use Neufchâtel in France), and a little heavy cream. They're much richer than popcorn—classier too—but they're no less serially munchable.

recipe Cream Puff Dough (
), ready to bake
egg, for glaze (optional)
ounces herbed fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
tablespoons heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

Using about ½ tablespoon of dough for each puff, drop the dough from a spoon onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between the mounds.

If you'd like to glaze the puffs, lightly beat the egg with a splash of cold water and, using a pastry brush, coat just the top of the puffs with a little glaze. Try not to let the glaze dribble down the sides of the dough, or the drips will hamper the puffs' rise.

Slide the baking sheets into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees F. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the puffs are golden, firm, and, yes, puffed, another 12 to 15 minutes or so. Place the baking sheets on cooling racks and let the puffs cool to room temperature.

Using a flexible rubber spatula or an electric mixer, beat the goat cheese, cream cheese, and heavy cream together in a bowl until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

If you'd like to fill the puffs without cutting them, fit a pastry bag with a small plain decorating tip and spoon the filling into the bag. Use the tip to poke a hole in the side of each puff and squeeze the filling into the puffs. Alternatively, you can cut off the top third or so of each puff, spoon in some filling, and replace the caps.

Serve warm, at room temperature, or slightly chilled.




The puffs are good slightly warm, at room temperature, or even ever so slightly chilled. They're great with white wine, particularly a white from the Loire Valley (consider a Sancerre), which is as well known for its goat cheese as it is for its wine.


Although you must spoon out the puffs as soon as the dough is made, the mini puffs can be frozen and then baked straight from the freezer. Unfilled puffs can be kept lightly covered at room temperature overnight. You can reheat them in a 350-degree-F oven for a few minutes to refresh them before filling. Cover any leftover filled puffs and keep them in the refrigerator; let them stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving.

Saint-Germain-des-Prés Onion Biscuits

in New York, it had never occurred to me to make the little quick breads in France until one New Year's Eve, more than ten years ago, when my friend Jim Ferguson told me he was bringing a good ole Carolina country ham to our very Parisian party and asked me to have biscuits at the ready. Who knew they'd be such a hit!

I made traditional plain biscuits for the country ham, but when I saw how much my French friends appreciated them, I created these onion biscuits, named them after our neighborhood, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and made them a house special.

I make the dough, pat it out, and cut it into small rounds—I use a piece of PVC pipe, about 1½ inches in diameter, that the plumber left after doing some kitchen repairs—then freeze the quick breads. Right before friends are due to arrive, I pop the frozen biscuits into the oven.

I think you'll be as surprised as I was to discover how good this simple Southern staple is with fine French Champagne.

tablespoons cold unsalted butter
small onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
cups all-purpose flour
tablespoon baking powder
teaspoons sugar
teaspoon salt
cup cold whole milk

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Have a biscuit cutter or tall cookie cutter, one that's between 1 and 2 inches in diameter, at hand.

Put ½ tablespoon of the butter in a small skillet or saucepan and cut the remaining butter into 12 pieces.

Set the pan over low heat, melt the butter, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, just until it softens, about 3 minutes. Pull the pan from the heat.

Put the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Drop the butter pieces into the bowl and, using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until you've got a bowl full of flour-covered pieces, some small and flaky, some the size of peas. Scatter the cooked onion over the mixture, then pour over the cold milk and, using a fork, toss and turn everything together until you've got a soft dough. If there are some dry bits at the bottom of the bowl, reach in and knead the dough gently a couple of times.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour, turn the dough out, and dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour. Pat the dough down gently with your hands (or roll it out with a pin) until it is about ½ inch thick. It doesn't have to be an even square or round; just do the best you can, and do it quickly.

Dip the biscuit cutter into the flour bin, then cut out as many biscuits as you can—cutting the biscuits as close to one another as possible—and transfer them to the baking sheet, leaving a little space between them. Gather the scraps of dough together, pat them down, and cut out as many more biscuits as you can; put these on the lined baking sheet too. Alternatively (and perhaps more economically), you can pat or roll out the dough into a rectangle or square, then, using a long knife, cut square biscuits, about 1 to 1½ inches on a side.
(You can make the biscuits to this point and freeze them on the baking sheet; when they're solid, pack them airtight and freeze them for up to 2 months.)

Bake the biscuits for 15 to 18 minutes, or until they are puffed and lightly browned. They're ready to eat now or to use to make cocktail sandwiches.




Biscuits are always best right out of the oven while still warm. However, these are also good at room temperature—the onion flavor is interesting enough to compensate for whatever fluffiness is lost when the biscuits cool.


Unbaked biscuits can be frozen for up to 2 months and baked straight from the freezer—just add a couple of minutes to the baking time. Once the biscuits are baked, they're best eaten quickly.

Cheez-it-ish Crackers

and I love to serve something cheesy as a nibble with before-dinner drinks (see the recipe for Gougères on
). So, since it's just not done to serve a hunk of cheese with aperitifs in France—hunks, rounds, and wedges are served after the main course, before dessert—and since the preferred nibble with that first
coupe de Champagne
or glass of wine is something small and often crunchy, I created these little crackers, which are so much chicer than pretzels. The dough is easily made in a food processor (although you could do it by hand), and it can be either rolled out or shaped into logs, chilled, and then sliced and baked (see Bonne Idée). While I make these most often with Gruyère, Comté, or Emmenthal, they're awfully good with cheddar, a cheese I'm convinced the French would love if only it could be made on their

tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
pound Gruyère, Comté, or Emmenthal, grated (about 1 cup)
teaspoon salt

teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Pinch of Aleppo pepper (see Sources
) or cayenne (optional)
cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Put the butter, cheese, salt, white pepper, and Aleppo pepper or cayenne, if you're using it, in a food processor and pulse until the butter is broken up into uneven bits and the mixture forms small curds. Add the flour and pulse until the dough forms moist curds again—these will be larger. There are times, though, when you pulse and pulse and never get curds—in that case, just process for a minute, so that everything is as moist as possible.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead it gently until it comes together. Divide the dough in half, pat each half into a disk, and wrap the disks in plastic. Chill for at least an hour, or for up to 3 days.

BOOK: Around My French Table
11.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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